is a general term used to refer to board games
, card games
, dice games
, miniatures wargames
, tile-based games
and other games
that are normally played on a table
or other flat surface. The term is used to distinguish these types of games from sports
and video games
, which today enjoy more popularity than most tabletop games.
The term is also used to distinguish role-playing games from role-playing video games, although role-playing games do not require a playing surface.
In casino gambling, the term "table game" is used to distinguish games such as blackjack, craps, roulette and baccarat that are played on a table and operated by one or more live dealers, as opposed to a slot machine. The term has significance in that some jurisdictions permit casinos to have only slots and no table games, or (in rare cases) vice versa.
Tabletop games can be classified according to the general form, or equipment utilized:
Games like chess and draughts are examples of games belonging to the board game category. Other games, however, use various attributes and cannot be classified unambiguously (e.g. Monopoly utilises a board as well as dice and cards).
For several of these categories there are sub-categories and even sub-sub-categories or genres. For instance, German-style board games, board wargames, and Roll-and-move board games are all types of board games that differ markedly in style and general interest.
Classification according to elements of chance
Alternatively, a more systematic classification results when distinguishing tabletop games according to the elements of chance involved. Two fundamentally different elements of chance can play a role in a game: chance due to outcome uncertainty (e.g. due to dice rolls or due to unknown cards being dealt during the game), and chance due to state uncertainty (e.g. due to the opponent's position or cards not being visible, or due to the simultaneous move character of the game). Games in which outcome uncertainty plays a role are referred to as stochastic games (as opposed to deterministic games), and games in which state uncertainty plays a role are referred to as partial (or imperfect) information games (as opposed to full information games). Examples of the chance classification for some well-known tabletop games are given in below table.
|| Full information
|| Partial information |
|| Chess, Draughts, Go, Gomoku, Hex, Mancala, Xiangqi, Reversi, Dots and Boxes, Phutball, Abalone, Lines of Action, Domineering, Nine Men's Morris
|| Duplicate Bridge, Battleship, Stratego, Mastermind |
|| Backgammon, Monopoly, Blackjack, Craps, Roulette, Yahtzee, Pig, Scribbage, Parcheesi
|| Poker, Gin rummy, Scrabble, Canasta, Risk, Mahjong |
Many colleges have student run organizations pertaining solely to table top gaming. The Collegiate Association of Table Top Gamers
is one such organization that has a few chapters at different schools.